4-H student puts the bite on mosquitoes - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

4-H student puts the bite on mosquitoes

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May 12, 2004

Albany-- Mosquitoes are a common problem in South Georgia. The insects are irritating, but their bite can be fatal.

A Crisp Academy student is solving those problems, and she's getting national recognition for it.

Mosquitoes are usually swarming around standing water. This is an ideal breeding ground for the insects, but it took a South Georgia teenager to think of a way to control the potentially deadly insects.

Sixteen-year-old Ashley Buford is working to control mosquitoes. "Especially last year, we had a lot of rain, a lot of standing water, so there was an increase in mosquitoes, and they're not only just bothersome and painful, but they can be deadly."

Potentially deadly diseases like Encephalitis and West Nile can be contracted through mosquito bites. "It actually started in our horse club when a horse in our area was infected with West Nile, so I started researching and looking up stuff."

She found that minnows are a natural predator to mosquito larvae. "Mosquitoes are the ones that carry West Nile, and so if you took away the larvae, then there would be no mosquitoes, and no virus."

The minnows are released and begin to feed on the larvae, so far it seems to working. "I have a friend who lives in one of the areas, and she says there was a definite decrease in the amount of mosquitoes."

Ashley has involved hundreds of other students in her project. "Clover Leaf and Junior 4-H'ers have actually been at the release sites." Together, their efforts have become a learning experience and could even save lives.

So why are minnows better than any other type of fish for eating mosquito larvae? Minnows are often referred to as toughies, because they can handle murky water, temperature changes and debris, conditions much like where mosquito larvae is usually found.

Ashley Buford was recently provided a national grant of $500 for her mosquito project.


posted at 4:50PM by dave.miller@walb.com